Relay of a lifetime

Colette Tindall Edeling is a 55-year-old South African-born grandmother from Brisbane, Queensland, who has put her life on hold to follow the entire Women Riders World Relay

Words: Kellie Buckley

Just over one year ago, a 27-year-old British office worker pasted two sentences into Google Translate in a bid to contact as many people as she could in as many countries as possible.

“I’ve had a totally crazy idea,” it read. “I’m thinking of doing a world relay, who wants to join me?”

That totally crazy idea has exploded into a totally unprecedented event called the Women Riders World Relay (WRWR) and, as the name suggests, means there’s a hand-carved timber baton being passed around the world by thousands of women motorcyclists across all five continents.

It started in northern Scotland and when it gets to its final destination of Dubai in February next year, it will have travelled over 100,000km throughout its 12-month journey.

While the baton is being passed from country to country, there’s just one woman who has committed to completing the entire thing. Colette Tindall Edeling is a 55-year-old South African-born grandmother from Brisbane, Queensland, who didn’t get wind of the event until a little over a week before WRWR was due to set off from the iconic signpost in the Scottish village of John O’Groats.

“I heard about the relay just 10 days before it started,” she told HOG®. “My work contract was up, so I thought why not? I quit my job, remortgaged my house, bought a bike on the internet and flew to Scotland.”

An owner of a Harley-Davidson® 115th Anniversary Forty-Eight® in Australia, Colette rode a Japanese bike through 39 European countries for the first leg of the relay, before securing an H-D® Forty-Eight for her two-week stint through India.

“The model was a few years earlier than mine, but it was great to ride with the Forty-Eight,” she said. “Riding in India is chaotic, the weather’s hot, we got heatstroke and Delhi belly, so it was a tough few days.”

A month later, Colette and the relay arrived in Perth for what would be an 8000km journey covered in less than two weeks. But despite the gruelling itinerary on home soil, Colette said the combination of familiar surroundings and her own Anniversary edition Forty-Eight made it easier and more enjoyable.

“It was like being on holiday as I was familiar with my surroundings and I could relax and enjoy the ride,” she said. “Though it took me 11 hours to cross the Nullarbor [the Forty-Eight has an eight-litre tank], I had to carry fuel and I ended up escorting a French rider through the dark whose headlight had blown – that was scary.

“It was great to be back on my own bike; I have added a seat, sissy bar, higher handlebars and I have changed the exhaust system for better performance.”

Colette put her bike back on a truck and sent it home to Brisbane before flying to New Zealand. From there she’s ridden through Canada and North America and very much looks forward to getting to South Africa, where it’s been more than a decade since she’s ridden.

“I can’t wait to ride South Africa as it’s my second home,” says Colette, who has everything crossed she can secure herself an H-D for the ride. “I will stay a few days after the relay to see the elephants and rhinos. The biggest thing I miss living in Australia is Africa’s wildlife.”